After an uncomfortable week crossing Russia by train Lieutenant Colonel I. Chermanescu of the Romanian Army, allies of the Germans, arrives at his destination:
22 September 1942
At 6 A.M. I wake up and I look on the window. We are in a larger station Werchowzewo where we are halted again. We have 80 more km to Djnepropetrowsk.
I shave, wash, drink my tea and wait for the train to get on the move. Until then I read some of the books I have taken with me from home.
At 15 hours we are in Djnepropetrowsk and at a small distance we see the Dnieper, a little smaller than the Danube. The city is formidable and industrialized, the chain of metallurgical factories starting several km before entering the city, and they spread for about 10 km. But everything is destroyed, crumbled and ruined. I saw several chimneys still smoking, probably operated by the Germans.
We stayed here no longer than 10 minutes therefor we couldn’t visit the city. The railroad was passing through a side of the city, so we could see that every house was hit by bullets or artillery shells. In the streets we could see wrecks of tanks, cars or tramcars, even after one full year of war has passed.
There was a giant electric network spreading for hundreds of kilometers around, because here it was the largest electric plant in USSR. In some places the electricity poles and wires were dismantled by the Germans.
At the city exit we cross the Dnieper on a large bridge, like the one over the Danube, with the exception this one had on top a passageway for road vehicles. The bridge is 1800 meters long and it remained undamaged.
12 km away from the city we were halted in a shunting yard between 4 P.M. and 10 P.M. We supplied with bread for 4 more days and we visited the station’s surroundings.
In the station there was another German train of a Caucasian battalion. We were astonished to see these men in German uniform and we could not understand them because of their Kirghizian dialect. All officers were Caucasians but battalion’s commander who was German. These were volunteers previously captured by the Germans and that offered to fight against the Bolsheviks. After a training session of several months they were sent to front.
We heard that the Germans have many units of this kind, made of volunteers from different regions of Russia, and some of them have as officers Russians who fled abroad during the Revolution. From other sources we heard that they are fighting very well and that the Germans have confidence in them.
This fact deepens my belief that the Germans will prevail, because those believed to be side by side with the Bolsheviks are fighting against them now. Moreover, in Ukraine, a kind of national army is undergoing buildup, army which I saw guarding bridges, railroad stations and public order in villages.
It is to be noticed that both in cities and in villages, everywhere you see nothing but misery, beggars and rags. By now I am for 6 days in Russia and I didn’t see a man, woman or child dressed reasonable. When you see such things you are astonished and you can only wonder how could this Russian people, of so many milions, bear so much unjustness without rising [up], and why do they fight so determined?! For me and for many others it is a mystery!
Coming back to the Caucasian battalion, the train stopped at the platform and disembarked the horses, that were walked in a perimeter behind the platform, because they could not keep the horses so many days in cars deprived of movement. After the movement they embarked the horses in the cars and before dusk, the Caucasians gathered in a circle on the platform and offered us a performance of Caucasian dance.
It was done in the following way: one of them was playing the harmonica while the others were clapping their hands in the rhythm of the play. One was coming out and dancing in a different manner of the others, because each region has its own customs. In Caucasus there are 14 different regions with specific dialects that have nothing in common with the Russian language.
We enjoyed their dances, especially seeing them in German uniform, as one couldn’t believe it unless he did know what it was about from the start. Had we more time and wasn’t the sun setting, we would have liked to show them our national dances. Some of the boys even started to practice in cars believing they would have the chance to show their skills.
For the full diary see WorldWar2.RO